August’s National Immunization Awareness Month Kicks Off Vaccine Season
Washington, D.C., August 1, 2016 – In recognition of National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), the nonprofit Alliance for Aging Research (Alliance) released a new “pocket film” today to urge seniors to get their recommended vaccines and to encourage their loved ones to do the same. The short animated film, titled Our Best Shot: The Importance of Vaccines for Older Adults, is available for viewing and sharing on YouTube here.
National Immunization Awareness Month is an annual observance held in August to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages.
Vaccine-preventable diseases cause significant illness, hospitalization, pain, disability, and death in the United States. Older adults are disproportionately affected:
– Pneumonia causes between 300,000-600,000 hospitalizations in older adults annually.
– More than 50 percent of annual flu-related hospitalizations and 90 percent of annual flu deaths are in people age 65 and older.
– The death rate from pneumonia and influenza combined is close to 130 times higher in people age 85 and older as compared to people ages 45 to 54.
– Around 50 percent of the more than one million cases of shingles each year are in people age 60 and older—and many who suffer with the infection end up with postherpetic neuralgia-induced pain that lasts for months, years, and for some, forever.
– Boosters for tetanus, diphtheria, and other diseases are necessary after the age of 65, and, if not updated, leave the individual vulnerable to serious and potentially deadly diseases.
– Additionally, without vaccine boosters for diseases like pertussis, young children who are exposed to the non-vaccinated can suffer serious consequences.
Despite these facts, multiple barriers lead to low vaccination rates among seniors. Coverage gaps leave a large financial burden on the patient, and the multiple channels for vaccine administration can lead to holes in a person’s immunization record. In July 2015, the Alliance released a white paper, Our Best Shot: Expanding Prevention through Vaccination in Older Adults, that reviewed current research and found seniors are not knowledgeable about vaccine-preventable diseases. Therefore, despite medical evidence, they tend to not elect to get vaccines because of concerns about safety and efficacy.
“Older adults play an influential role in increasing the immunity of their families and social circles, particularly for those who are vulnerable or too young to receive vaccinations themselves,” says Susan Peschin, MHS, Alliance president and CEO. “Seniors can inject a dose of reality into the myth-driven debates around vaccines and lead their families by example.”
To reach seniors across the United States, the Alliance is partnering with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) to develop and disseminate a community workshop kit with all the resources needed to conduct educational seminars for seniors and caregivers. In addition to including the new “pocket film,” the kit will focus on the recommended vaccine schedule for older adults, understanding vaccine coverage under Medicare plans, where vaccines can be administered, the importance of vaccination, and talking to health care professionals about one’s vaccine history. The community workshop kit will be piloted in August at four sites throughout the U.S. and then released broadly around National Grandparents Day in mid-September.
“We are eager for our Aging Network to use this new resource to help older adults in communities across the country get better educated about the importance of vaccines,” says Sandy Markwood, n4a CEO. “Unfortunately, vaccination rates in every age group fall short of targets recommended by the CDC. We believe our nation’s older adults can help shepherd all of us to do better for ourselves and our loved ones.”
The film was created with unrestricted educational support from GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer, and Seqirus. For more information about Our Best Shot, please contact Noel Lloyd, director of communications, at 202.370.7852 or through email.
NIAM is sponsored by the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC). For more info, visit NPHIC’s NIAM website.
About the Alliance for Aging Research
The Alliance for Aging Research is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries and their application in order to vastly improve the universal human experience of aging and health. The Alliance was founded in 1986 in Washington, D.C., and has since become a valued advocacy organization and a respected influential voice with policymakers. Visit www.agingresearch.org for more information.
About the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) is the only organization representing over 600 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) as well as over 200 tribal aging organizations—which provide a broad range of on-the-ground health-related and community-based services to older adults in every community in the United States. The primary mission of n4a is to build the capacity of its members so they can help older adults and people with disabilities live healthy, independent lives in their homes and communities for as long as possible.